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nphan

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  1. Upvote
    nphan reacted to IRToni in Range of funding for PoliSci Programs   
    I do agree that people should be made aware of these things, although I wouldn't necessarily consider the spreadsheet data reliable, bc people with debt are far more likely to access the page etc. in the first place. I also think we should compare this data to the general populace debt, and am not sure whether people are only reporting thier grad school data.
     
    IMO, most stipends posted here will be enough if you live frugally, and don't take too long to finish your PhD. I know that in many European countries, stipends are even lower, but because loans are not as readily available, people still graduate debt-free (or close to it). I lived on less than 1100 US$ a month (incl. rent) in one of the most expensive cities of the world, and managed fine.
     
    Going in with an open eye, and having a good idea about cost of living, as well as keeping an eye on your finances is definitely important!
  2. Upvote
    nphan reacted to catchermiscount in Welcome to the 2014-15 Cycle   
    I was deeply saddened.
  3. Upvote
    nphan reacted to cooperstreet in Welcome to the 2014-15 Cycle   
    How should I treat poor performance in my 1st year of undergrad in my SOP/CV
     
     
    1) Ignore it.
     
    2) my guess is do 3 letters. they dont need to be in your subfield.
     
    3) Sure. But you need to educate yourself on tiers . Rochester tier 5?
     
    4) Sure.
  4. Downvote
    nphan reacted to victorydance in Typical accomplishments for an average PhD student   
    There are dozens of students who get in with no math background at all.
  5. Upvote
    nphan reacted to Poli92 in Typical accomplishments for an average PhD student   
    I think Walrus was referring to econ admissions here, in which case he/she is pretty darn near correct. For a growing number of econ PhD programs math experience is not a grey area, they flat-out require a full calc sequence and at least one or two of the other courses Walrus mentioned, maybe adding discrete math and prob & stats, as a prerequisite for admission. Some schools will take you conditionally if you can complete the coursework before your start date or contingent on some other arrangement. But at any rate, Walrus is right in that it isn't wise to go without. 
  6. Upvote
    nphan reacted to Slutsky_Walrus in Typical accomplishments for an average PhD student   
    On the econ side, this is the general trend I've seen/heard:
     
    GRE: Quant is the usually the one that matters, at least160 (80th percentile)
    GPA: Generally anything below 3.5 will get you auto-rejected at top schools (like a GRE Q below 160)
    Publications: If you have any that's great, but most undergrads coming out do not have them. So definitely helps you if you do, but won't hurt you if you don't. 
    Undergrad thesis: Exactly 1 person in the world cares about you undergrad thesis - you. 
    Research interests: There aren't any that are better than another, but you should be aware of each school's general strengths when applying
     
    Now the math courses list is slightly more tricky. The golden rule is more math the better. But you should at the minimum have all A's in calculus courses (single and multivariate), real analysis, algebra courses (linear and abstract). and I'm probably missing some. Now, you may be missing one or more of the core math courses and you might get in anyway, but that means you're already a step behind everyone else. And playing catch up at a top school, or at any school, is not a good idea. 
  7. Upvote
    nphan reacted to jazzrap in Will my working experience help me a lot in my application? help!   
    OP,
     
    Work experience will only help an applicant a lot when it is both quant-heavy and directly relevant to your research interests. Therefore, in your case, it probably won't help a lot as it does not meet the first condition. There are two ways it will help a little bit. First, in your SOP you can write that it is an experience that has helped inform your research interests. In other words, it can make your SOP flow more smoothly. Second, it definitely means that you are a candidate who is quite knowledgeable about the geographic area you intend to study. Note that there is a decreasing rate of return on your regional expertise in admission. Being a Chinese yourself already helps in this regard, so having interned at a provincial-level government think tank will add more credential to it, but not that much in the eyes of a professor who does admissions. 
     
    More importantly, there are three aspects of the admission you need to consider. First, your GRE scores. The writing score will hurt a lot. It will make you add to the stereotype that Chinese over-perform in the GREs. Professors can be like: "hey, there is another Chinese who got a verbal score that is higher than the actual level of research-level English he has. His writing score says a lot." An American will have less of a problem scoring 3 out of 6 in the writing section than a Chinese who comes from China. But even for an American, 3 out of 6 is still pretty low. Not low enough to shut you out of the door, but it will hurt you in the later stage where professors are debating between two files. In addition, there is still time, so retake your GRE also for the sake of getting even higher scores on verbal. It is important to have a score as high as possible. Trust me, scoring a 335+ will help a lot. People will say things like "I got in Michigan with a not so high GRE score" or "I have seen people with perfect scores who got eliminated by most programs." Just because there are people who die in a car crash with the seat belt on and there are people who survive without the seat belt on does not mean that you should not fasten your seat belt. Those who got into a top 5 with low GRE might have perfect GPA, which you don't have, a letter from Thad Dunning, which you don't have, and a degree in CS and Economics, which you don't have. Oftentimes, professors face a choice between two candidates. One interned in the Federal Reserve for 2 years. The other works as a NGO correspondent in Rwanda.  The first person got a letter from Gary King, the other from James Fearon. The first person has a degree from a top 5 US university with a GPA 3.8. The second person has a degree from a top 10 US university with 3.9. Professors are not able to tell whose profile is stronger, but with the GREs, they can. 335+ is better than 328. Case closed. Let's be clear. your current scores in verbal and math are not bad. If it is August, I would not even recommend retaking the test. However, it is June. 
     
    Second, you need to think more than just China. Nowadays comparative politics has moved completely beyond regional studies and most research produced on a single country must be framed in a way that contributes to mainstream theories that can predict phenomenon cross-nationally. Therefore, don't say out front in your SOP that you want to study Chinese political system. NO. Say this: "I hope to make contributions to the rapidly proliferating literature on authoritarian regimes." Then, don't even mention China until you reach the paragraph where you need to explain your work experience. To begin reading the mainstream theories that China is relevant to, I recommend works by Milan Svolik, Babara Geddes, and Scott Gehlbach. 
     
    Third, these years applicants from China never succeed in getting into a decent school without training in US or Britain. Many applicants now go with the route of applying to master programs in the US to gain experience before PhD applications.
     
    If you have any questions, don't hesitate to PM me. Good luck.
  8. Upvote
    nphan reacted to ThePope in American SPA vs. GWU Trachtenberg for MPA   
    As a DC native, I can tell you GW does have a better reputation. It's also ranked higher; US News and World Report had it at #50 nationally, and American at #77. Also, GW has an average acceptance rate of around 33%, whereas acceptance rates hover around 44% for American, making GW notably more selective. And everyone knows that, so people do tend to view it as the better school. Generally, DC universities are thought of this way (best to worst):
     
    1. Georgetown
    2. George Washington
    3. American
    4. Catholic
    5. Howard
    6. University of DC
     
    The difference between GW and AU isn't enormous, and the two schools certainly share some faculty, so there's no denying American is great. I've visited them a lot, and they've got a very organized and friendly staff. You really can't go wrong either way, and I agree with Flyers that you should go to both Open Houses and get a feel for them. Whichever place you choose should be the one that feels like home, that has the best curriculum and connections for your intended career. Particularly given that the two schools aren't HUGELY apart on the ranking scale, fit and comfort matter most here.
     
    That being said, GW does have name recognition that American doesn't, it's considered to be a better school, and GW's proximity to the White House is a nice bonus. If you've never been to DC, or if you've only ever been as a tourist, there are INFINITELY more networking and social opportunities around the White House than anywhere else in the city. Not like American's campus is super far away or anything-- but GW's campus couldn't possibly be more centrally located.
  9. Upvote
    nphan reacted to can-bra in Graduate Institute, Geneva   
    I don't know what prompted me to revisit this site, but given the interest in the Graduate Institute (where I'm now studying), I'd make the following observations:

    (1) Be cautious regarding financial calculations - it was only after arriving and speaking to second years that it became clear that the majority of scholarships are not renewed (grades seem to be the critical factor - ie, placing top 10-20% in class). Apparently this is a relatively new development, but I'm sure the financial criss will also have some effect. Having said that, I was really surprised by how many students were on a full ride for the first year, and there are plenty of opportunities to pick up career-relevant part-time work in your second year.

    (2) French ability is not really an issue unless you want to take Development courses (most are in French). At the same time, this means that if you want to make the most of the opportunity to learn French you'll need to take the initiative. Re working at the UN (or any int org/major NGO), I would say that a good knowledge of French (or one of the other official UN languages) is pretty critical. After awhile it seems like everyone in this town speaks at least 3 languages (or more), so that's the level of competition. I would also keep in mind though that if you're interested in the humanitarian sector, international law or multilateral trade, then Geneva is a pretty incomparable place to be (just work on your language skills).

    (3) Choose your programme carefully (it's not too late to switch even after being accepted). The MIS programmes are far more intellectually challenging (though more theoretical), have smaller classes (meaning you develop a closer relationship with professors) and allow you priority entry to courses in your field. The MIA is more career-focused (and the largest programme), but also lacks a departmental 'home', meaning students often miss out on the most popular elective subjects because they don't have priority.

    All in all, I'm happy with my choice (Geneva over SAIS, LSE, IR/PS). I can only imagine now how the mountain of debt would have affected me - certainly it would have ruled out the option of considering unpaid internships (most int orgs) and travel.
  10. Upvote
    nphan reacted to lobsterphone in Biggest Regrets from this Admissions Season   
    Ohhhhh boy the GradCafe confessional booth, hey?  Here's advice from the procrastination queen:
     
    1)  GRE - Take it early.  I took mine on 12/26 (a Christmas present to myself, harhar) and just hoped the score would get in on time for 1/5-1/15 deadlines.  They did, but I didn't get a chance to retake after bombing the quant and writing section, which probably would have helped get me better funding.  Also, study some (over 4-6 weeks is sufficient) but don't flip out because it's just like a souped up SAT, and chances are if you did well on the SAT, you'll do fine on the GRE.  DEFINITELY study vocab.  Vocab=instant points.  
     
    2)  Prioritize your applications by your lowest choice to top choice.  The lowest/safety apps will ultimately become templates for your next apps, and they'll only improve with additional re-re-re-readings.   Even if you think you have the best SoP ever, put it away for a few days and revise, and have friends give it another review.  They'll likely notice things that could be better.  And it is totally worth your while to personalize each SoP per school.
     
    3)  Recommendation letters - Again, ask early!  I asked for mine in early- to mid-December.  It worked out, but definitely could have been WAY LESS stressful.  Retrospectively, I should have kept in touch with professors.   I've been out of school for 3 years now and had a less than stellar record of ever going to office hours, and I attended a big public school with big lecture sizes.  I got lucky in finding a very willing professor who remembered me after getting ignored/turned down by two others. Office hours are worth it after all!
     
    4)  Don't decide to travel abroad for 3 weeks during this time of year.  Oops--I'm missing every single admitted student visit day.  
     
    5)  Transcripts - Take note if a certain anomaly of a school asks for an official hard copy.  I spent some ridiculous dollars on overnight shipping, assuming that every school had switched to the much easier self-scan and self-report system.  
     
    6)  Last minute apps - Hopefully none of you will have this issue, because it's pretttttttty bad.  If you're planning to do your application the day it's due, at least try to look at the required SoP prompts a few weeks before.  Columbia threw a curveball by asking for two essays and two resumes.  I didn't learn my lesson, and then also had the same issue with Tufts' and JHU SAIS's extra essays.  Like I said, I think y'all are much smarter than I was about this.
     
    7)  Budget - I spent the equivalent of one-month's worth of NYC rent on application fees, GRE fees, transcript fees, the whole deal.  Count on your wallet hurting around the holidays.
     
    8) Relax from Jan-Feb!  There's not much use freaking out about your application until you start hearing results.  And honestly, reading this grad forum before/during/after completing my applications caused me to freak out more and undervalue myself.  There are plenty of very, very accomplished people here; that is not necessarily the norm, and consider this a statistically biased group.  I find my academic/professional profile to be pretty average, and I still got into every school I applied to.  
     
    9) Subscribe to the school/program's blog or FB page.  Lots of useful application information there updated in real time.
     
    Good luck 2014-er applicants!
  11. Upvote
    nphan reacted to enkayem in Chicago or American?   
    Firstly, congratulations.
    I work in IFC (World Bank Group). In South Asia. I can assure you in another three years you will not be able to find jobs in DC through the WBG because it's on a massive decebtralization drive. Nor will you find that IFIs consider DC experience super-exciting. Think development sectors (urbanization, climate change, water & sanitation par example), think regions of the world and then think which of the two schools can offer you that experience through academic training and its network.
    The one thing U Chicago will tell any employer is that you have superb quant skills and are highly analytical. I am not sure what the AU brand is and I didn't apply to it. But I bet you it too is a great school. I am still awaiting decisions from all the schools I have applied to but I plan to make my decision based on 1. how much moolah I am offered 2. what is the school's strength in terms of my areas of interest and 3. what quality of life do I want i.e. which city, what sort of campus, what sort of academic milieu do I want to be steeped in. But these are questions that matter to me. Figure out what matters to you and then decide. Screw ratings.
  12. Upvote
    nphan reacted to 2012IRgrad in UCSD IR/PS   
    @understatement7000

    Sorry about the confusion, I meant that I personally have a strong Europe connection, as I did my undergrad there, and a mild DC one, hence my concern about going to SD and not being able to properly establish a NY/DC network. I apologize for the fogginess of my initial statement.

    @ everyone else

    After visiting the campus today, I have to say I was very impressed. Not only by all of the staff/interns in the admissions office, the very kind and personable students who I met during the lecture and around campus, or the teaching staff I spoke to, but (this may sound odd) by the legitimacy of it all. It is a solid, solid program. Everyone who I spoke with today was very informative, very driven, and very passionate about attending/working at IR/PS.

    I was able to sit in on the Political Institutions in Latin America session, though it was the first class of the quarter so was mostly a overview of the syllabus & expectations rather than a traditional lecture. This, however, I really appreciated as I got a sense of how the class was structured, how the professor prioritized weekly topics, assessments, delivery of material. I enjoyed seeing a projected view of what a typical quarter at UCSD would be like. The current students I was able to speak to were all very passionate about their chosen concentrations and were all, well, big fans of all of their professors.

    Every student I spoke too also agreed on one thing: the heavy focus on quant is intimidating. They were all very vocal about how intense the quant/finance/econ aspect of IR/PS was. They were also equally vocal about how grateful they were for it and how competitive it made them in the job market. It's something most of the typical big name schools on here lack, so it's seen as an asset despite its demanding course load.

    Other notable impressions include: veryyy diverse student body (many internationals, lots from South America), well informed and direct financial office, helpful and supportive career folk, engaging professors, small but well resourced campus, obviously beautiful surroundings, parking is a bitch (leave the car at home).

    Overall, I can see this as a great place to be headed. I am still undecided whether I will attend as I am waiting on financial packages from a few other schools, but I would definitely be happy here. I would say that it's a strong contender, but it a significant shift from the exact trajectory I've been on in regards to regional focus/language/quant, so I remain in limbo.

    Hope this helped! Let me know if there are any questions I could answer about the campus itself.
  13. Upvote
    nphan reacted to OregonGal in UCSD IR/PS   
    Ok, so after attending the DC admitted students session, here's a few impressions:

    I walked in 90% sure I wasn't going to grad school next year; now I'm much more torn and mostly on the financial basis. My main concern with UCSD is the location, and the event really showcased the strength of their career services to mitigate that distance.

    The admitted students session was a short presentation/Q&A with an admissions officer and a recent alum. There were only 3 of us at the session, so while we didn't overall have a ton of questions we did have a lot of opportunity to ask them. After that we went down to a mixer with alumni and current students, followed by a dinner (which I was unable to stay for) headlined by the dean of IR/PS.

    The main thing that impressed me about the networking/mixer session is the turnout and the format. Apparently, over UCSD's spring break they take a trip to DC with 15-20 current students, to help them with connecting with potential employers/internships or informational interviews. The mixer/dinner had not only those students, but 50-60 alumni in the DC area. When you're talking about a west coast school that graduates 125-150 people a year, that's a pretty good indication of an active alumni base to help you along your path. For example, the alumni sitting in on the admissions session said she'd helped connect at least two UCSD grads with jobs at the World Bank in the last 18 months she'd been employed by them.

    Besides the generic presentation for the admit session, of which a lot of the information could be found on the website, a few things stuck out:

    a) the vast majority of the incoming class is required/strongly recommended to attend the summer prep session in August. The admissions officer said that with recent classes, they'd found that the "recommended" students tended not to attend the boot camp and subsequently struggled in class, so they are encouraging somewhere around 90% of the incoming MA students to attend. That makes me feel better about being sent to summer school

    35% of the students at IR/PS have a TA-ship or similar (grader, etc). Those positions offer full tuition remission if you are at 10 hours+ a week, plus a pretty decent hourly wage ($12-15/hr). Even if that doesn't include out of state tuition fees, that can knock a significant amount off even in the first year where they don't want you TA-ing your first quarter.

    c) Internship funding. I'd seen them highlight that they offer grants for people taking unpaid internships, but assumed that funding was fairly limited. However, they've secured enough funding that the admissions officer pretty much guaranteed that as long as you do your part in sourcing the internship by their April deadline, they will give you pretty decent funding--she said a couple thousand for within the US depending on the area (presumably pro-rated by living costs so you get less if you intern in Minnesota vs NYC), and potentially a bit more for overseas internships (presumably because of travel costs). One detractor for me was the idea of finding summer housing and funding an unpaid internship in DC/NYC; if I can get a significant portion to all of those costs covered, plus get Career Services to help me find that internship, that takes away a lot of the detractors of a west coast school.
  14. Upvote
    nphan reacted to orangesplease in UCSD IR/PS   
    Alrighty, received some insight from my friend who currently goes there.

    Pros:
    - He'll be leaving w/ 18k in debt (in-state tuition)
    - The IR/PS career center is amazing and they really do a great job at assisting their students find jobs. They bring in alums and other useful individuals. Apparently the director is a fantastic networker.
    - Lots of useful academic exercises
    - The student network created through the program is a huge asset

    Cons:
    - Brand isn't as instantly recognized outside of academia and/or the West Coast
    - Their academic requirements are quite rigorous and it's difficult to give your all to all the courses b/c you're taking 4 courses at once time

    I forgot to ask him about quant... well hope this helps someone!
  15. Downvote
    nphan reacted to cunninlynguist in Take the Money or the Reputation - SIS vs. SIPA and SAIS   
    Thank you. What the hell happened to this place (Govt. Affairs)?
     
    Seems that so many misguided people perceive an MBA or JD as the magic bullet. This is even more dangerous when the people dispensing this advice don't know the true conditions of the job markets in those fields. Conversely, policy degrees are useful... for people who actually know where their career is headed. An MBA or JD without the genuine interest or desire to work in a capacity directly applicable to what the degree will confer is a reckless choice.
     
    I also don't think federal loans are the end of the world. If you are crawling to Sallie Mae to finance a 100K+ education and only want to work in the public sector, your decision isn't the most prudent. However, if you're selecting a rigorous program and need federal loans to pay for 60-70K, it's been done time and time again by students before you. You shouldn't count on IBR or PSLF, but they're around, and it may alleviate some of the financial pressure.
     
    So, basically: this isn't a forum for those with goals of MBB and BigLaw. Take it somewhere else, please.
  16. Downvote
    nphan reacted to soaps in Take the Money or the Reputation - SIS vs. SIPA and SAIS   
    Yeah it's not exactly a cakewalk even for people graduating from T14 law schools. I doubt many of the lower T14 are even finding jobs. It's cutthroat competition and you need to stay at the top of your class even at Harvard/Yale/Stanford... not everyone starts with a six figure salary.
     
    Not to mention, his GPA makes it a virtual certainty he would not make it into a top law school even if he aced the LSAT. Worst advice I've ever read.
  17. Downvote
    nphan reacted to soaps in Take the Money or the Reputation - SIS vs. SIPA and SAIS   
    Yes because the obvious answer for someone who doesn't want a load of debt is to forget that, wait a year, apply for top law programs that are vastly more competitive with absolutely no guarantee of getting in, all just to have higher tuition for three years instead of 1 or 2, and despite having shown no prior interest in law. What excellent advice. 
     
    Honestly, the stuff I read on these forums sometimes...   Why would someone interested in public policy programs be suddenly OK with taking on more debt and (by extension) taking on a lucrative and punishing law career (in the most ideal scenario) just to pay off that debt when his actual interest is public policy? Christ almighty.
  18. Upvote
    nphan reacted to ksangwook in UCSD IR/PS   
    I received an email that notified me of a new message.  I checked, and there was the funding message.
  19. Upvote
    nphan reacted to lbjane in Is Elliott worth sticker price?   
    I tend to agree with mnboy that no MPP or MA/IR is really worth crazy debt because public policy jobs don't pay huge salaries and the difference in career options between programs is not as pronounced as the difference between Law or MBA programs, especially if you're wanting to go in to government or non-profit work.  For every door a program may open, your debt load may close three others because you can't afford to live in DC on that salary and still make your monthly loan payment, for example. 
     
    GWU is expensive and DC's an expensive city.  If it were me, I'd take a year, work on your GRE, work experience, statements, etc. and also cast a wider net when you apply next year.  You might get good financial aid and some nice stand-out opportunities at another school.  Sometimes you've got to just find the right school that's looking for applicants just like you.  
  20. Upvote
    nphan reacted to Hilldog2016 in Negotiation Advice   
    Hi folks, just wondering if people have advice on negotiating to get aid offers increased. Questions for discussion:
     
    1) Should you do it once you have a competing offer or once you have all your offers?
    2) Is it better to get a word in early or wait until it's closer to April 15 and they know whether people are coming or not?
    3) Does one call or email?
    4) Assuming no specific POI, does one contact the admissions coordinator who emailed the decision or the dean who signed the admit letter?
     
    Best of luck to all!
     
  21. Upvote
    nphan reacted to JFactor in GWU Results?   
    I got funding, 15k for each year. But AU is offering me a full scholarship and since the programs are very close to each other in terms of quality and internship opportunity etc., if I decide to stay in DC for both years I'll definitely go to AU.
  22. Upvote
    nphan reacted to Dinosaur7 in GPPI in Results Database   
    Since I originated this thread totally stressed out , I just wanted to check back in and let people know that I did hear from GPPI today and was accepted! Big sigh of relief. No request for scholarship essay yet, but based on what you all said it seems like that could come separately in the next day or so. 
  23. Upvote
    nphan reacted to pete-mc in Chicago Harris   
    Just read an interesting Twitter post from Harris admissions:
     
    "AppTip#11: Apply to places where you want to live. Your life goes on even when you're in graduate school, you should enjoy it."
     
    That's why I ended up not applying there and WWS, etc. Hehe..
  24. Downvote
    nphan reacted to deadhead47 in UCSD IR/PS   
    My roommate had an interview for MPIA.
     
    They are gonna ask you:
     
    Why straight from undergrad?
    What is one word that describes you?
    How do others around you describe you
    What is one goal that you have accomplished?
    What would you do if you were the prime minister in Japan?
    What would you do if you were the president in China?
    Do you have any questions?
     
    I thought there were more but can't remember.
    Interview goes for exactly 20 min.

    Good luck!
  25. Upvote
    nphan reacted to understatement700 in UCSD IR/PS   
    TL;DR: IR/PS is a land of contrasts, a niche program in some ways, but one which provides you with generalist skills as well. Personal and professional/academic fit are really important!
     
    IR/PS is about 40% foreign students, the plurality from China but there are chunks from Japan, Korea, Mexico, Brazil, etc. The US students are proportionally more skewed towards Californians but there are plenty from out of state as well. If I had to guess maybe half of domestic students are from California, maybe a little more, but pretty much everyone has lived abroad. IR/PS is in San Diego, which is a totally different environment than a city like DC and of course California is more laid back, but alas IR/PS is a land of contrasts. Yes, California is chill and we could go to the beach every day since it’s just a mile away, but it is a very demanding program and we don’t have a lot of free time. Academic research-wise IR/PS and polisci at UCSD in general are top notch, but for the MPIA program IR/PS has got to have one of the most “professional”/quant- focused curricula and the career services are great at getting students prepared for moving to DC or wherever. I’m looking to go to DC after I graduate so that’s what I know the most about.
     
    Pros:
    Quantitative curriculum – IR/PS prides itself on providing an “IR/PS toolkit” with real skills to take to the job world whether that’s with private sector, government, or non-profit. This includes at least two quantitative methods courses, managerial econ, international econ, finance, and accounting. Asia/Pacific focus – Lots of cool speakers coming to speak at IR/PS and curriculum allowing you to specialize in a specific region. There is never a shortage of interesting speakers, just wish I had time to go to more. There are several different research centers on campus that bring them in. Faculty and courses – There are excellent faculty here doing top research in both regional affairs and international security, political economy, development, etc. You can complement all the “professional” skills with faculty who are at the top of their game in research. Location – La Jolla is alright but San Diego as a whole is great. Definitely one of my favorite cities. Wherever you are planning to end up living, a few years in San Diego might not be too horrible and you can always move out of SD or California afterwards as many alumni do. Career Services – They are awesome, really can’t overstate this. There are three full time career services people and they are on top of their game and very helpful and knowledgeable about the different industries, hiring procedures, etc. They will pretty much help you with anything and keep you in the loop. This is a huge asset of IR/PS. Price – This depends on your personal situation and offers but overall I would say that IR/PS is cheaper than some of the DC schools. For example, if you are a California resident your tuition will be about 20k cheaper per year than a school like SAIS. If you are a non-resident American then it’ll still be about 10k cheaper your first year and the second year you can get California residency. Of course, IR/PS also offers merit based fellowships, which I’d say are certainly competitive to get but not rare. Sorry I don’t have figures on this, I’m sure admissions knows! Oh, and most students who apply early enough can get graduate housing for two years, which is subsidized and fairly cheap. Think about 500 a month for your own room on campus, possibly furnished depending on the specific place. Cons:
    Large classes your first year – Basically most classes you take your first year are with all the same students so you see each other every day and then when things don’t make sense in the big lecture hall you go to office hours of the professor or TA. I imagine that other professional IR programs the same size as IR/PS might be the similar, but there are definitely downsides education-wise to such huge classes. Most electives are taken your second year – If a particular faculty member you want to work with happens to be on sabbatical or something your second year for whatever reason, you’re out of luck since you have a heavy core course load your first year. This also means less flexibility in curriculum. The core curriculum is pretty set although it’s possible to waive out of classes if you’ve taken a similar course at another school and done well. If you are looking for a program that’s very flexible in terms of creating your own degree this isn’t it. Although you can create a specialization with an academic advisor instead of doing International Politics or International Econ. etc, you’re probably not going to get out of core courses. No matter what your focus is you’ll have some flexibility your second year but the first year is almost set for you, and it is very challenging. If you aren’t particularly interested in Pacific Rim IR then IR/PS might not be the best fit since you have to fulfill a language requirement here for a Pacific Rim country and do a regional specialization. Language courses are pretty hit or miss in terms of quality, some are through IR/PS and some are through UCSD so you might end up taking classes with undergrads, depends on the language. Location – San Diego is great and there are a good amount of IR/PS alumni working in DC in the federal gov. etc. But, obviously the DC schools would allow you to be right there and possibly intern during the school year, which could be useful. I think the career services mitigate this downside a lot but it’s still true that the DC schools will have a larger alumni network in DC and a longer history of such.
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